07 Jan 2024

How an accountability partner can help you achieve amazing goals

I realise that I’m in the minority when I explain how I love the month of January. Whilst many in the UK describe it as a cold, depressing time, I think of it as a clean, blank page in a fresh new book. The days gradually become longer and the snowdrops are soon to appear, signalling early Spring. This optimism is further boosted when I think of the opportunities in having an accountability partner.

When it comes to setting goals for the year ahead, I’m not a huge fan of New Year resolutions. For most people, just resolving to do something different is almost futile. New habits are hard to embed, and old habits even harder to break.

Instead, I like the idea of setting specific goals and making detailed plans to achieve them. The trouble is, despite the initial excitement of setting goals and creating plans, they can be hard to execute. It can be a real challenge to stick to agreed actions.

This is human nature. We’re not designed to think ahead and make short term sacrifices for long term gain. To some degree or another, we are social creatures and operate best in groups with support and encouragement from others.

This is easy enough in a workplace with established team structures, but what if you want to achieve a personal goal? If you’re a business founder or solopreneur, it can be a real challenge.

So, how could an accountability partner help you achieve amazing goals for the year ahead?


Benefits of an accountability partner

In a world where people are moving away from traditional work patterns, the nature of how we interact with each other is changing. Working from home (or anywhere) is more normal than ever. Digital nomads are leading the way in blending work with lifestyle.

But don’t confuse remote work with working alone. Attempting to work on your own for more than half the week is unlikely to derive good results. A study in the US indicates that isolation could lead to disengagement, low job satisfaction, reduced wellbeing and poor performance.

Working with an accountability partner is not just about reducing isolation. You can expect a range of benefits, including:

  • Helping you plan and strategise
  • Motivating you to stay on track
  • Providing advice and support
  • Sharing happiness and success
  • Encourage you to push your limits
  • Acting as independent observers
  • Increasing the odds of success in reaching goals

Increase your odds of success with an accountability partner

One set of statistics pops up frequently when searching for evidence of accountability success. These are these findings from a 2010 study by the American Society of Training and Development (now known as the Association for Talent Development):

The probability of successfully completing a goal is:

  • 10% simply by thinking of a goal in the first place
  • 25% if you consciously decide that you will do it
  • 40% if you decide when you will do it
  • 50% if you plan how you will do it
  • 65% if you commit to someone else that you will do it
  • 95% if you work with a specific accountability partner with structured appointments

So, sharing your intention to achieve a goal can improve your chances of achieving it from 10% to 65%. Even better, is a regular commitment to meet with a specific individual who can hold you to account.

It seems that will-power alone is not enough. The most successful people surround themselves with a team for support.

So, how can you reap the benefits of an accountability partner?


Online partnering with FocusMate

This platform has been a revelation for me and thousands of others. It’s a virtual co-working site where you book 25, 50 or 75 minute slots to focus on work in the presence of a partner.

You’re not working with each other, but rather, simply showing up. At the beginning of a session, you share a few words about what you’d like to achieve, then pop yourself on mute and get on with it. At the end of the time slot, you summarise progress with each other and that’s it!

It might sound overly simplistic, but it’s surprisingly effective at helping to boost productivity and bypass procrastination. Imagine you wanted to create a new habit, say, to review your finances once per week. Making yourself accountable to someone else to show up will vastly improve your chances of stick to it.

FocusMate is free for up to 3 sessions per week. If you really get into it, you can book unlimited sessions for a modest subscription.


The Pomodoro® technique

This is not so much about using an accountability partner, but it can help with productivity, perhaps in conjunction with something like FocusMate.


The Pomodoro® Technique is a time management idea created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, when he was a university student and used the tomato-shaped kitchen timer to organise his study schedule. The name comes from the Italian word for tomato.

Basically, you follow these steps:

  1. Choose a task to work on
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  3. Crack on with the task until the timer sounds
  4. Take a 5 minute break
  5. Then repeat
  6. After four pomodoro sessions, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes

Cirillo experimented with many different combinations of focussed work and breaks, then settled on this as the most effective.

pomodoro technique

You can try a simple online timer from PomoFocus that will help you get started.


Working with a coach

In the world of health and fitness, a personal trainer adds so much more value than just technical knowledge. Whilst expertise on nutrition and exercise is important, it’s the accountability, encouragement and motivation that can really deliver success.

Let’s face it, all the knowledge you need is available for free on the internet. We all know that healthy eating and regular exercise is the key to feeling great, but it can be hard to apply that knowledge.

Same with personal finance. It’s common sense to spend less than you earn, insure against financial disaster and save towards financial independence. Yet, there’s a fair chance that you’re not progressing as well as you’d like in these areas.

Working with a coach offers many benefits, aside from accountability, including:

  • Establishing goals
  • Breaking down tasks into manageable steps
  • Providing a safe space to gain perspective
  • Building personal awareness
  • Improving knowledge and skills
  • Nurturing self confidence

If you already know your goals and have the required knowledge and skills, you can work with coaches purely for accountability. Try GoalsWon for daily motivation and progress tracking. This is an online app that lets you hire an accountability partner.

It blends technology with human support so that you can complete daily tasks with a coach to keep you on track. The ongoing accountability can help build new positive habits and work towards lasting change.


Accountability Partner: Summary

With research indicating that an accountability partner could increase the chance of attaining your goals to 95%, it’s worth thinking about.

For 2024, I’ve enhanced my coaching packages to provide more accountability support between coaching sessions. I hope this will help more people achieve their financial and life goals faster and with a greater sense of partnership. To find out more about how financial coaching could help you, see my earlier article here.